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.»- . 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Back in the fall, a Rich- 
mond newspaper fea- 
tured a distinguished speaker 
who addressed a group of high 
school students on the subject 
of ethics. He began by explain- 
ing the honor code at VMI, his 
alma mater, and then asked the 
students for their definition of 

Two of the answers struck a 
chord with me. One student replied that 
ethics is "what your grandmother would 
approve of," and another opined that ethics 
"was what you did when no one was watch- 

I think we can all relate to these in- 
sights. And they bring to mind two other 
quotes worth sharing. The first, by Aldo 
Leopold in his Sand County Almanac, re- 
minds us that, "A peculiar virtue in wildlife 
ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no 
gallery to applaud or disapprove of his con- 
duct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated 
by his own conscience." 

The second is described in his very spe- 
cial book, Beyond Fair Chase, by Jim Pose- 
witz. The author offers the following defi- 
nition of an ethical hunter: "a person who 
knows and respects the animals hunted, 
follows the law, and behaves in a way that 
will satisfy what society expects of him or 
her as a hunter." Posewitz reminds us that 
wild animals belong to all people, and that 
public perception of how hunters care for 
and about wildlife is critical to the future of 

Fast-forward to the present and a re- 
cent report on the future of hunting and 
shooting sports. According to Responsive 

Management and the National 
Shooting Sports Foundation, 
78% of Americans approve of 
hunting and believe it is im- 
portant for the state fish and 
wildlife agencies to provide op- 
portunities for recreational 
hunting. Yet we know that 
only five percent of the popula- 
tion (estimated at 14 to 18 mil- 
lion) currently participates in 
hunting each year. It is therefore essential 
that sportsmen and women conduct them- 
selves in a manner acceptable to the major- 
ity of the population who choose not to 

This is a theme emphasized in our 
Hunter Education Program and a theme 
often heard, in many different venues. An 
annual event supported by the Loudoun 
County Chapter of the Izaak Walton 
League's outdoor ethics committee in co- 
operation with our Department recognizes 
citizens and law enforcement personnel in 
this regard. The October 2009 meeting 
marked the 20th anniversary of a program 
devoted solely to promoting outdoor ethics 
that, at the same time, has fostered 
tremendous cooperation among the vari- 
ous agencies involved in wildlife law en- 
forcement — including the prosecution of 

I applaud all community efforts that 
promote ethical conduct and I truly believe 
it imperative that hunters embrace ethical 
behavior in pursuit of their cherished pas- 
times. As the number of hunters declines 
to a smaller percentage of the overall popu- 
lation, I'd wager the future of hunting will 
be directly tied to our ability to do so. 

Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; 
To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard 
the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons 
and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an 
awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 





Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

L. Preston Bryant, Jr. 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Brent Clarke, Fairfax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtlarid 
F Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders and 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other com- 
munications concerning this publication to Virginia 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rates 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 
per each back issue, subject to availability. Out-of- 
country rate is $24.95 for one year and must be paid 
in U.S. funds. No refunds for amounts less than 
$5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9369. 
POSTMASTER: Please send all address changes to 
Virginia Wildlife, P.O. Box 7477, Red Oak, low; 
51591-0477. Postage for periodicals paid 
Richmond, Virginia and additional entry offi< 

Copyright 2010 by the Virginia Department 
Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall 
afford to all persons an equal access to Department 
programs and facilities without regard to race, 
color, religion, national origin, disability, sex, 01 
age. If you believe that you have been discriminat- 
ed against in any program, activity or facility, 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 
West Broad Street.) P. O. Box 11104, Richmoi 
Virginia 23230-1104. 


"This publication is intended for general infoi 
tional purposes only and every effort has been 
made to ensure its accuracy. The information con- 
tained herein does not serve as a legal representa- 
tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. The 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 
does not assume responsibility for any change in 
dates, regulations, or information that may 
after publication." 


Mixed Sources 

ige in 


About the cover: 
It may be cold and the fishing 
may be slow, but spring is just 
around the corner! Time to 
sharpen hooks, re-spool line, 
stock the tackle box, and maybe 
catch a Fish Expo to whet your 
appetite for the upcoming sea- 
son. Photo ©Bill Lindner 

y mr 


For subscriptions, 
circulation problems 
and address changes 


12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23.95 

Hunting the Night Shift 

by David Hart 
As the last shades of daylight fade, foxes 
and other predators move into action. 

Hitting the Mark 

by Bruce Ingram 
Building team spirit, self-esteem, and 
new skills: An archery program for 
students offers it all. 



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Winter Deep Dropping 
Attracts Hearty Souls 

by Ken Perrotte 
Looking to escape the winter doldrums? Here's 
one solution. 

Shooting with a Woman 

by Clarke C Jones 
Here's a classic example of "be careful what you 
wish for." 

Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! 

by Cristina Santiestevan 
Virginia's Changing Coasts 

Kids Catching Fishing Fever 

by Gail Brown 
Everything's jumping, including the fish, in Red 
Oak this particular day. 

Off the Leash 

A Duck Hunter's Jounal 


Dining In 

Photo Tips 

Looking for an exciting 

and challenging hunt? 

Try your hand at 


by David Hart 

With the click of a button, 
Chris Carden sends an 
eerie scream across a 
Prince Edward County pasture. A full 
moon lights the field as Carden, his 
brother Vince, and I stand in the shad- 
ow of a towering cedar tree. A shot- 
gun is braced in my arms, Vince rests 
a .223 rifle on a monopod, and Chris 
sweeps the field's edge with a soft red 
spotlight. The quivering scream 
could be mistaken for a hungry in- 
fant, but it's the recorded sound of a 
wounded rabbit trailing from an elec- 
tronic caller. To a fox, a bobcat or a 
coyote, it's the sound of a free meal. 

We expect to see the glow of eyes 
from a curious predator coming to 
the squeals of the call at any time, but 
after 20 minutes we decide to try an- 
other spot. It fails to produce and so 
does the next one. At each stop, Car- 
den scans his red beam along field 
edges and down logging roads that 
wind through planted pines as his 
caller emits a series of chilling cries. 
First, a wounded rabbit. Then Car- 
den tries a woodpecker in distress. 
When that doesn't work, he clicks on 
the mournful howl of a coyote. We 
are in perfect predator habitat, we 
agree, but on this night the foxes, coy- 
otes, and bobcats just don't want to 
show themselves. We call it quits 
after midnight. 

"That's the way it is sometimes. 
I've had nights where nothing came 
in and then I've gone back a few 
nights later and called in several," 
says Carden, a business owner from 
Chesterfield. "A few years ago me 
and my brother called in five grays, 

two reds, and a coyote in one night in 
Prince George County. I've had many 
nights like that and I've had plenty of 
nights where I didn't see anything." 

The Perfect Game? 

Carden used to hunt deer, but family 
and work obligations made daytime 
outings difficult, and he gave up 
hunting completely until a friend 
took him on a nighttime fox hunt in 

"I realized I could hunt while my 
family slept and I could still get 
things done in the daytime," he says. 

He's not alone. As hunters seek 
new challenges and more opportuni- 
ties to stay in the woods, they are in- 

the northern and western Piedmont, 
while grays favor the thick cover 
found in the pine plantations and big 
woods of southern and southeastern 
Virginia. Coyotes, most common in 
southwest Virginia, are scattered 
throughout the state. Bobcats are 
more abundant in the rural counties 
of the southwestern and south-cen- 
tral regions. Wherever they live, they 
all respond to the various sounds of 
prey in distress and will sneak, trot, 
or charge in to investigate — if every- 
thing goes right. 

After Dark 

Although hunters in the western 
United States have pretty good suc- 
cess calling predators in broad day- 
light, the chances of pulling in a fox, 
bobcat, or coyote in Virginia during 
the daytime are slim. Carden and 
Travis typically start their nighttime 
adventures as soon as the last shades 
of daylight fade from the western sky. 
That's when foxes and other preda- 
tors begin the nightly search for their 
next meal. 

the Night Shift 

creasingly turning to four-legged 
hunters. Predator hunting is one of 
the fastest growing segments of hunt- 
ing in Virginia and it's certainly one 
of the most thrilling. Try it and it's 
easy to see why. 

"I like the challenge of trying to 
call in a predator," says Thomas 
Travis, a police officer from Farm- 
ville. "When you see those eyes 
glowing in the spotlight and they are 
coming toward you, it really gets 
your heart racing." 

He was also introduced to preda- 
tor hunting by a friend. They called in 
a bobcat on his first attempt back in 
2001, but the animal stayed out of 
shooting range. That was enough to 
turn Travis into a hardcore predator 
hunter and, although he still hunts 
other game, he'd rather chase preda- 
tors than anything else. 

At least one of Virginia's three pri- 
mary predators — foxes, bobcats, and 
coyotes — can be found in every 
county in the state. Many counties 
have all three. Red foxes are most 
abundant in the rolling farmland of 


Although possible to call in predators in the morning and evening, many dedicated 
hunters pursue their guarry at night. 

It's dark, of course (the darker the 
better, says Carden), so a good light is 
essential. Travis and Carden use high- 
powered rechargeable spotlights 
with red lens covers made specifically 
for predator hunting. The red is invis- 
ible to the color-blind animals, and 
approaching predators have no idea 
they are being watched. Their eyes, 
however, will give away their loca- 
tion as they reflect the light. Carden 
keeps his light on all the time and is 
constantly sweeping field edges and 
trails with the colored beam. When he 
sees the glowing eyes of a predator, 
he keeps the center of the beam 
just above the animal 

while his partner gets 
W ready to shoot. 

He learned long ago that working 
a light, a call, and a gun at the same 
time can be just about impossible, so 
he prefers hunting with a partner. Be- 
sides, it's a lot more fun to share the 
thrill of a successful hunt with a 
friend. Two hunters can also cover a 
lot more ground if one carries a rifle 
while the other totes a shotgun. (Be 
sure to check county regulations for 
firearms restrictions.) 

"I carry a .223 or a .17 Remington 
in case we get one to come in that 
won't come close 
enough for a shot- 
gun," explains Car- 
den. "My partner 
carries a 12-gauge 
loaded with Number 
4 shot, which is good 
out to about 50 yards." 
Travis prefers to 
hunt just with shotguns 
because the areas he 
hunts are often thick and 
shots are close. He also fa- 
vors shotguns because 
they force him to let the 
predator get close enough 
to fully identify it, some- 
's, thing that's not always 
easy to do at night, 
j even with a bright 
spotlight. Both men 
have called in dogs, 
cats, and even deer. 
Mostly, however, 
Travis calls in exactly 
what he hopes to call: 
lots of foxes, a few 
bobcats, and three 
coyotes so far. 


Predator hunting is one 
of the fastest growing 
segments of hunting in 
Virginia and it's certainly 
one of the most thrilling. 

All In The Call 

To bring in those predators, Carden 
uses a digital electronic caller capable 
of playing dozens of sounds, ranging 
from a wounded cottontail rabbit 
and a woodpecker in distress to coy- 
ote howls and fox pups in distress. A 
digital caller can cost several hun- 
dred dollars, and although they are 
only about the size of a coffee can, 
they can be a burden to carry, which 
is one reason both men rely on a 
hand-held mouth call most of the 

"I like the digital caller because it 
has so many different sounds and it 
can be a lot louder, which is impor- 
tant if it's windy," Carden says, "but 
probably about seventy percent of all 
the predators I've called came to a 
mouth call." 

Travis prefers a hand-held mouth 
call, as much for the price as the con- 
venience. A decent call can cost under 
$20 and it never loses a charge. Hang 
it around your neck when you hunt 
and it's always there, he adds. 

Both men start by calling softly for 
about 30 seconds to a minute. They 
then wait a few minutes, scanning 
their surroundings with a light, and 
then repeat the sequence several 
times over the course of 15 or 20 min- 
utes. They increase the volume of 
their call slightly with each new se- 
ries. If the wounded rabbit sequence 
doesn't work, Carden will switch to 
one of a half-dozen other sounds pro- 
grammed into his digital caller. 

Before he makes the first stand, 
Carden scouts the land during the 
daytime to find the best places to call 
and the easiest ways to get in and out 
of the hunting area. When they hunt, 
he and Travis pay close attention to 
the wind and make sure they keep 
their scent from blowing toward the 
direction they expect to see some- 
thing. Nothing matters more than 
wind direction, and a coyote that 
catches human scent will vanish in an 
instant. So will red foxes. Carden says 
bobcats seem to be less concerned 


about human scent, and gray foxes, 
well, they can sometimes act like they 
don't have a nose. 

"Gray foxes will come charging in 
without any concern about wind di- 
rection. The first one I shot at was on a 
dead run at ten yards and another 
came within five or six feet," says 
Travis, who admits he missed both. 
"Reds will often stop just out of range 
and sit down and watch for 20 min- 
utes or more. Sometimes they'll come 
in or just turn around and leave. Bob- 
cats can take their time, as well." 

That's why Carden will wait up to 
45 minutes before he picks up and 
moves. Normally, however, he'll give 
each spot no more than 20 minutes. If 
a predator is in the neighborhood 
and is interested in the call, it will 
usually show up right away. He likes 
to try as many spots as he can, and 
depending on the cover and terrain, 
Carden will move at least 200 yards 
before he tries another calling se- 

quence. He'll travel 
less distance on windy 
evenings, but he says 
his success rates are far 
lower when the wind is 
blowing. A little breeze does 
not discourage him from 
hunting, though. Carden just 
likes to be out on those cold, dark 
nights. He may not always call in a 
fox or a bobcat or a coyote, but 
sooner or later, the glow of eyes re- 
flecting in his spotlight will remind 
him why predator hunting is so fun 
and exciting. □ 

David Hart is a full-time freelance writer and 
photographer from Rice. He is a regular contrib- 
utor to numerous national hunting and fishing 

The thick cover typical of Virginia pine 
plantations is often prime habitat for foxes 
and bobcats. It's difficult to hunt, but can 
be extremely productive. 


Kids in over 

300 Virginia schools 

are hearing 


thanks to NASP. 

by Bruce Ingram 

[f\ T\\ he time is 7:30, Monday 
morning at the Northside 

c =1 Middle School gym in 

Roanoke County. Twenty-four stu- 
dents in grades six through eight have 
arrived to engage in an extracurricu- 
lar activity with their coach, Bob Shel- 
ton, a physical education teacher at 
the school. But these young people 
aren't there to improve their jump 
shots or running times. Instead, they 
are working on their archery skills as 
part of the National Archery in the 
Schools Program (N ASP). 

"There are so many good things 
about NASP," Shelton tells me. "One 
of the kids who joined had been listed 
as an 'at risk' child, but now he has a 
reason to come to school and feel a 
part of things. NASP is also a great 
way to stimulate a young person's in- 
terest in the outdoors. 

"At the beginning of the program, 
of our 24 kids only three of them were 
bowhunters. Now, seven or eight 
have bought their own bows and 
have caught the bowhunting fever. 
But one of the best things, and also 
most pleasurable for me, is that these 
young people are just excited to be 
here, improving their archery skills." 

Karen Holson, who supervises the 
outdoor education program for the 
Department (DGIF) and serves as the 
state NASP coordinator, maintains 
that such turnarounds are not un- 
common because of student partici- 
pation in NASP. 

"There is a grandmother in New- 
port News who has a wonderful 
story about her grandson and how he 
never participated or enjoyed sports 

in the past but really enjoyed archery. 
He even asked for a bow for Christ- 
mas and now shoots every day after 
school," she says. 

Soon, the satisfying sound of 
"thwack" is heard throughout the 
gym as the young folks release ar- 
rows toward targets at distances of 
10 and 15 meters. Five stations exist 
and each student shoots five arrows 
before the next quintet arrives to do 
the same. 

e 'rip 

Reviewing safety procedures, Coach Bob Shelton prepares his NASP team for 

Shelton relates that the National 
Wild Turkey Federation is a sponsor 
of NASP and, through the DGIF edu- 
cation program, Northside Middle 
School has been assigned 12 bows, 
five targets and arrow-resistant net- 
ting, among other things. Communi- 

ty support also has developed: A 
local archery club, Sherwood 
Archers, gives students discount 
memberships, and eight or nine stu- 
dents joined early on. Such support 
around the state is common, adds 


National Archery 
in the Schools 

Starting Up 

NASP is designed for students in grades 
four through twelve and its core content 
includes archery history, safety, tech- 
nique, equipment, mental concentration, 
and self-improvement. Prospective school 
teachers must undergo an 8-hour instruc- 
tor certification program referred to as 
BAI, "Basic Archery Instructor." DGIF out- 
door education staff and certified volun- 
teers conduct the training program. 


Karen Holson relates that NASP positively 
influences student attendance, behavior, 
self-esteem, confidence, and on-task be- 
haviors. For more information: | 


Statewide Participation 

Kentucky was the first state to incorporate 
NASP into its schools, in 2002; Virginia 
got on board in 2006. DGIF staff and vol- 
unteers have trained 797 teachers in over 
300 schools, and the agency has provided 
and assigned NASP equipment sets to over 
200 schools across the commonwealth. 
For more information: 

Statewide Tournament 

After a "virtual" tournament in 2008, the 
Department held its first statewide tour- 
nament (that is, with teams competing in 
the same location) on February 28, 2009 
at the Augusta Expoland in Fishersville, in 
conjunction with the Western Virginia 
Sport Show. 

Teams of 16 to 24 students competed 
in either Elementary (Grades 4-6), Middle 
(Grades 7-8), or High School (Grades 
9-12) Divisions. Winning teams and indi- 
viduals were eligible to compete in the na- 
tional tournament in Kentucky this past 

For more information on the Western 
Virginia Sport Show: 
To see a video of this event: 

Coach Bob Shelton of Northside Middle School tutors Jordan Calloway on proper 
shooting stance. 

"We have many other donors and 
contributors that make this program 
work," she emphasizes. "The DGIF 
and my volunteer instructors put in 
many hours for the Virginia NASP!" 

Shelton says that the fervor of his 
students has even influenced him. 

"I hadn't bowhunted in about 10 
years until I started coaching these 
kids," says the Botetourt County resi- 
dent. "Now because of their passion, 
I've started back. Sitting in a tree- 
stand on an October afternoon after 
school is a great way to enjoy the 

Shelton's program has been so 
successful that, in 2008, the Roanoke 
County school won first place in the 
middle school division. Eighth-grad- 
er Will Echols captured the individ- 
ual award for middle school stu- 

"Our team winning was really ex- 
citing," Echols tells me. "Last year 
was the first time I had ever shot a 
bow, and I got really into it. I practice 
a lot at home, and hopefully I can 
start bowhunting one day." 

Seventh-grader Anna Hensley re- 
lates that an incident in phys. ed. 
class piqued her interest. 

In fact, a lot of my kids weren't par- 
ticipating in anything extracurricular 
until NASP came along. It gives 
them a place where they feel com- 
fortable and a part of things. " 

"One day we were shooting and 
Coach Shelton tells me that I would 
probably be really good at archery 
and suggested that I come out for the 
team," she says. "A lot of my friends 
also said that archery was really fun, 
and they were right. My dad 
bowhunts, and maybe I can start 
going with him." 

Three days later, I am in the gym 
at Hidden Valley High School, anoth- 
er Roanoke County training site for 
budding archers, on a Thursday af- 
ternoon. Teacher Lisa Sink-Morris 
has just given her "pre-game" pep 
talk, this one about the importance of 
peep sights remaining in a fixed loca- 
tion. Then, employing the same 
whistle that she does for her phys. 
ed. class, Sink-Morris sounds off. The 
students commence shooting. 

Sink-Morris, who the students af- 
fectionately call Coach Mo, has been 

target shooting for some 25 years and 
credits her mother for introducing 
her to the pastime. All in all, some 35 
students participate in her NASP 
team program. 

"I have the school eccentrics," 
laughs Coach Mo. "That is, the ones 
that aren't interested in playing ball 
sports or in various club activities. In 
fact, a lot of my kids weren't partici- 
pating in anything extracurricular 
until NASP came along. It gives them 
a place where they feel comfortable 
and a part of things." 

Later, freshman Wayne Veldsman 
comes up to Sink-Morris and proud- 
ly shows her a "Robin Hood" — that 
is, two arrows that were shot in the 
same place on a target, so much so 
that one arrow's point has buried it- 
self in another arrow's nock. 

In 2008, her team finished second 
in the high school division for Vir- 
ginia's NASP. But the group's biggest 
claim to fame was testifying before 
some 35 members of Congress about 
the benefits of NASP and why it 
should continue to receive govern- 
ment funding. Senior McKenzie Vie, 
who has been on the Hidden Valley 
team for three years, marvels at that 

"It was very interesting testifying 
before Congress," he tells me. "I had 
expected those Congressmen to 
know a little something about 
archery, but they didn't. So we had to 
carefully explain to them about the 
benefits of NASP and archery. 

"I found it very difficult trying to 
teach adults something new. But 
things must have worked out be- 
cause Congress did renew the pro- 

I next approach senior Hannah 

"This is the only club I've been a 
member of my whole time in high 
school," she says. "I really enjoy com- 
ing to the gym to shoot." 

And that's reason enough for Vir- 
ginians to be proud that our state is 
an active participant in NASP. □ 

Bruce Ingram has authored many guide books, 

most recently Fly and Spin Fishing for River | 

Smallmouths ($19.25). Contact him at _ for more information. ~*> 

JANUARY 2010 © 

Above: Coach Shelton assists student in scoring the arrows he has shot. 
Below: Coach Lisa Sink-Morris gives shooting instruction to senior Hannah Kocher 
who says that NASP has been the only program she has participated in during her 
high school years. 


Chris Boyce exults over a trophy citation-sized 
sea bass that took his deep drop jig bait. 


story and photos by Ken Perrotte 


11 r. Ken Neill III tugged at the drawstrings of the 
[ hooded sweatshirt he wore under his black and or- 
JfcJ ange survival suit as he nudged his 34-foot Albe- 
marle sportfishing boat eastward toward the rising sun. 

Neill studied the information his depth finder was 
providing as it scoured the ragged, rugged bottom of the 
Atlantic Ocean some 600 feet below us. His fishing crew 
stood at the stern, their warm breath leaving vapor trails 
in the chilly morning air. 


Hearty S 

"Okay, let 'em down here," he an- 

Spool releases clicked on five fish- 
ing reels, freeing 12- to 20-ounce 
weights to the forces of gravity. 

Anything could be waiting on the 
distant, dark sea bottom near the 
edge of the famed Norfolk Canyon 
some 55 miles out from Rudee Inlet in 
the heart of Virginia Beach. The bet- 
ting was tilefish, but snowy grouper, 
plump black sea bass, or numerous 
other denizens could slam the offer- 
ing of cut bluefish. 

Newport News resident Wes 
Blow quickly hooked up with a hefty 
blueline tilefish, one that would qual- 
ify for a Virginia Saltwater Fishing 
Tournament trophy citation. 

The morning's fishing began in 
comparatively shallow water near 
the wreckage of the cargo steamer, 
Chenango, torpedoed by a German U- 
Boat in 1942. Virginia Beach residents 
Ric Burnley and Chris Boyce quickly 
got on the black sea bass carpeting 
the bottom 125 feet below the boat. 
The fish bit aggressively at the color- 
ful deepwater jigs and cut bait offer- 
ings drifting through their domain. 

Ric Burnley prepares to toss o "wreck anchor" on one of the shallower setups of a 
winter deep drop fishing trip. The wreck anchor is crafted from rebar which can be 
often bent to and freed when it gets hung up in the structure below. 
Below left: A bluefish, caught with a big-eyed, blue deep dropping jig, comes to 
the surface. Photo by Ken Neill III 

Most trolling fleets of sportfishing 
boats that routinely venture to the 
Gulf Stream in warmer months seek- 
ing tuna, dolphin, and marlin stay 
docked in the winter. Still, anglers 
willing to suit up for winter action 
can warm their spirits by trolling or 
fishing baits such as live eels for 
jumbo striped bass inshore and ven- 
turing offshore to "deep drop" for 
bottom hugging, structure loving 

"The popularity of deep dropping 
has grown beyond anyone's expecta- 

tion," Neill said. "It is amazing — the 
number of boats, even big headboats, 
willing to run that far to bottom fish." 

Neill, a Yorktown dentist who 
aptly named his boat Healthy Grin, 
loves both the uncertainty and vari- 
ety of winter deep dropping. 

"They offer variety to the winter 
striped bass run," he said. "When 
you drop down to the bottom out 
there, you never know what you are 
going to catch. It very well may be a 
species which you cannot even iden- 


Dr. Ken Neiti III pilots his Healthy Grin sportfishing boat toward home after a most 
productive day of winter deep drop fishing off the Virginia coast. 

Tilefish and Sea Bass Stats 

Tilefish are bottom dwellers. Blueline tile- 
fish like water from 240 to nearly 800 feet 
deep, and range from Virginia to Mexico. 
They burrow head first in cone-shaped 
sand piles and grow to nearly three feet. 
They eat crabs, shrimp, snails, worms, sea 
urchins and small fish, which gives them a 
flavor some claim is similar to lobster. 

Golden tilefish are more colorful and 
bigger than bluelines. They're found in 
water from 250 to 1,500 feet deep along 
the outer continental shelf and upper con- 
tinental slope along the entire eastern 
United States and Gulf of Mexico south to 

Black sea bass roam the Atlantic coast 
from Maine to Florida, and the Gulf of Mex- 
ico. They like structured habitats such as 
reefs, wrecks, or oyster beds. Black sea 
bass eat whatever prey is available, but es- 
pecially like crabs, shrimp, worms, small 
fish, and clams. The world record of 10 
pounds, four ounces was caught off Vir- 

Like many bottom dwellers, tilefish and 
sea bass growth rates are considered slow. 

Creatures of the Deep 

Indeed, some deep dropping trips 
see anglers wind in such exotic 
species as a Darwin's Slimehead. 
Who, besides an ichthyologist, has 
ever heard of a Darwin's Slimehead? 

Beyond targeted species such as 
black sea bass, tilefish, and grouper, 
deep dropping trips can find anglers 
hooked up with conger eels, hake, 
and spiny dogfish. Dogfish, a shark 
species, are often considered pests. 
They can dominate winter deep drop 
action, twisting bottom rigs into tan- 
gled messes as they roll incessantly 
after being hooked. 

Somewhat surprisingly, bigger 
bluefish can also be found deep 
alongside sea bass. One stop on 
Neill's early January outing last year 
saw Blow and Burnley pulling up al- 
ternates of 10-pound bluefish and 
nearly 6-pound sea bass. Blow 
waged a successful fight when a pair 
of big bluefish decided to bite each 
baited hook on his bottom rig. 

Not for the Fainthearted 

Winter is an unforgiving time to be 50 
to 60 miles offshore. As Neill ex- 
plained, "The forecast always seems 
to be bad during the winter. The off- 
shore forecast is really not much 
help." He monitors the forecast for 
out to 20 nautical miles and the near 
real-time data provided by the off- 
shore weather buoy (a technological 
boon to anglers). If winds are 15 
knots or less, he's willing to make a 
run out and see the actual conditions. 
Winter water temperatures quick- 
ly suck the heat from anyone unfor- 
tunate enough to become immersed 
in the sea. Help can be a long time in 
arriving when you're many miles off- 
shore. As a precaution, Neill and reg- 
ular fishing crew member Charles 
Southall wear cold water survival 
suits, which are designed to provide 
help with both flotation and life-sav- 
ing warmth for a couple hours. Off- 
shore trips this time of year often 
leave the dock in the dark and return 

"The popularity of deep dropping 
has grown beyond anyone's ex- 
pectation, " Neill said. "It is amaz- 
ing—the number of boats, even 
big headboats, willing to run that 
far to bottom fish. " 

in the dark, maximizing the amount 
of daylight fishing hours. 

Fuel prices have impacted the 
recreational and charter fishing indus- 
tries for several years. Deep dropping 
trips aboard headboats, which carry 
more people, typically cost less than 
smaller sportfishing boats, and usual- 
ly carry six people or fewer. Neill said 
costs per person can range between 
$100-$300 depending on the distance 
traveled and time spent offshore. 

Always a big place, the Atlantic 
Ocean can be downright lonely in the 
dead of winter. The Healthy Grin 
seemed to have the ocean largely to it- 
self on this early January morning. 



Deep Drop Gear 

Dr. Ken NeilLIII is a representative of the 
International Game Fish Association and 
an avid deep dropper. He likes Penn 320 
GTI, Shimano Torium and other conven- 
tional reels of similar size, matched with 
medium action rods. Use braided line of 
about 65-pound test. Braided line in- 
creases the sensitivity of the fish's bite 
hundreds of feet below the boat and is 
more durable in dealing with the under- 
water structure such species inhabit. 

Terminal leaders should be crafted 
from 80-150 pound line. Hook size can 
vary from 4/0 to 7/0 (seven-aught). Use 
a heavy enough sinker to remain in con- 
tact with the bottom. Heavy jigs or 
sinkers between 8 ounces and 2 pounds 
are appropriate, depending on water 
depth and conditions. 

Winding up hundreds of feet of line 
can be physically demanding. Some an- 
glers, especially those with physical lim- 
itations, use electric reels. While easier, 
fish caught using electrically-assisted 
reels are typically ineligible for sport- 
fishing record books. 

Bait & Technique 

Most fish will hit cut bait or jigs, but 
live 8-12 inch croaker or spot make ex- 
cellent bait for grouper and other big 
fish. For extremely deep water, some 
anglers dress it up with day-glow rubber 
skirts in a squid pattern and chemical 
glow sticks. On the January trip profiled 
here, sea bass bit well on hefty, 9-inch 
"Jerk that Jig" deep dropping jigs with 
3D eyes, multi-layered reflective finish- 
es and glow-in-the-dark bellies. 

The fish often tries to dive into 
whatever cover exists along the bottom 
after the hook is set. Cut lines can await 
anglers who don't immediately retrieve 
line and firmly coax the fish into clear 
water. If the fish hangs up and the boat 
is anchored, slacking the line to release 
pressure on the fish may fool it into 
thinking it has gotten free. It may swim 
from cover on its own, giving the angler 
a second chance. Once the fish is clearly 
coming up, take it slow and steady. 
Novice anglers sometimes pump the rod 
too aggressively, increasing odds the 
hook will pull from the fish. 

Sea Bass Controversy 

A recent decision by the National Ocean- 
ic and Atmospheric Administration 
(NOAA) to close recreational sea bass 
fishing in federal waters up to 200 miles 
offshore from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to 
Maine, for 180 days had many Virginia 
deep droppers disappointed. The closure 
was in response to data NOAA said 
showed recreational fishermen may 
catch more than double their annual 
quota by year's end. The Recreational 
Fishing Alliance was exploring a legal 
challenge. Winter deep dropping for sea 
bass will, undoubtedly, be affected this 
year, but count on anglers to resume the 
quest in April when the closure ends. 

Deep Drop Fishing Contacts 

An Internet search for "Virginia deep 
drop fishing charters" using Google will 
yield many Web sites of charter captains 
offering such trips. Another good bet is 
contacting various marinas around the 
Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads areas 
and asking for recommendations. 

Fewer than five boats were spotted 
all day and none crowded in on the 
fishing action. 

A vast, gently rolling blue sea 
blending against a crisp, blue sky 
winter day amplified the experience. 
Good natured banter, laughs, and en- 
ergy poured from the boat and dissi- 
pated into the watery wilderness as 
fish were swung aboard. 

The drop. The anticipation. The 
rod tip suddenly, sharply twitching 
downward. Then, two simple words 
that can cure just about any case of 
winter cabin fever: "Fish on!" 

Ken Perrotte is a King George County resident 
and the outdoors columnist for Fredericksburg's 
Free Lance-Star newspaper. 

Wes Blow admires the trophy citation 
sized blueline tilefish he caught during 
a banner day of fishing. Offshore seas 
were about as calm as they get in early 
January and anglers aboard the Healthy 
Grin caught multiple trophy fish. 



break, financial ruin, or other slip- 
pery situations which always beg the 
question, "What was I thinking?" 

Sometimes, however, I believe 
that little man inside your head just 
ignores certain consequences be- 
cause he is bored and wants to watch 
how things play out, or feels a partic- 
ular upcoming situation (usually 
formed somewhere else in your head 
as a good idea) will be one of those 
mistakes that creates what we so 
often call "learning experiences." 
The unfortunate deficit of a "learning 
experience" is that they come when 
we didn't know we needed to learn 
something or have the experience. 

So it was with me when I came up 
with the seemingly brilliant idea that 
a way to separate a certain sweet 

story by Clarke C. Jones 
illustrations by Tamara Norman 

Sometimes you just don't know 
who to believe. Have you ever 
known a good friend in whom 
you had absolute trust who 
convinced you to enter into a roman- 
tic, long-term commitment that will 
enrich the both of you, and then 
when some unpredictable hiccup oc- 
curs, as it usually does, leaves you 
quicker than a September suntan? 
We may all have fallen for one con or 
another, but maybe the most surpris- 
ing deception is the one we inflict 
upon ourselves. 

You know the one: It is when you 
tell yourself you are going to do 
something that will be for the good of 
someone else, and you personally 
will receive little if any benefit from it. 
Usually there is something inside 
your head, some little man perhaps, 
that sees the dangers that lie ahead 
long before you do and is sending up 
warning flares to cease and desist 
whatever you are planning. If you 
pay attention to the warning instincts 
flashing inside your cranium, you are 
able to avoid disappointment, heart- 

young thing's attention from the 
herd of a multitude of males was to 
invite her to go bird hunting. The 
brilliance of this idea was its simplici- 
ty. Offer something that she had 
never done before and thereby stand 
alone in some degree as a man capa- 
ble of presenting something unique 
and original. I had heard girls like 

Believing she was unfamiliar with 
firearms of any sort, I suggested be- 
fore we actually take to the field in 
search of quail or pheasant we 
should first go to a shooting range so 
that she would be acclimated to the 
intricacies of a shotgun and how to 
safely use one. This suggestion was 
met with much adoration and grati- 



tude. She seemed very impressed 
that I was not only concerned about 
her safety and that of others, but as I 
pointed out, she would feel less self 
conscious in the field. I must admit I 
was somewhat pleased with myself 
with her response to this idea. My 
only objective was to turn one date 
into two. 

Having found that putting the 
concerns of others actually did pro- 
vide some benefit, I pressed on by 
suggesting we meet for dinner later 
and then drive up to a sporting goods 
store so she could look at various 
shotguns and accessories she may 
use in the field. This suggestion was 
also met with enthusiastic approval. I 
was now assured of three dates and 
began mentally waving goodbye to 
all her other suitors as they choked in 
my dust. 

Looking back, I believe it was at 
this point I became overly optimistic 
or just downright greedy. During 
dinner, she asked me about the guns I 
owned and what the term 'gauges' 
meant and how chokes affected a 
shot pattern. She told me how much 
she loved the outdoors and had al- 
ways wanted to go bird hunting be- 
cause her father had always spo- 

ken so fondly of it. When I asked 
why she had never gone before, 
she replied that all the men in her life 
ever asked her to do was go snow ski- 
ing or go sailing on their boats or took 
her to their country club for tennis or 

Then she looked at me with those 
big doe eyes and said, "I am so excit- 
ed that we are doing this!" 

Ashamedly I have to admit, as we 
drove in her foreign-made convert- 
ible with the standard three numbers 
on its trunk, I had perhaps let things 
get a little out of hand. Maybe it was 
the warm September air or maybe it 
was the wine at dinner, but I was 
thinking about digit jewelry and an 
ivy-covered cottage as we pulled into 
the sporting goods store. 


/ / 


/ ' < ' 




Walking into one of the last bas- 
tions of maledom with a long-legged, 
tidy blond can do wonders for your 
ego. I don't believe I have ever strut- 
ted before, but I think I was strutting 
then. In fact I would pay good money 
to buy the surveillance video tape 
from that store just to see me 'pimp 
walk' over to the shotgun counter. 

It is truly amazing how good cus- 
tomer service can be when you are 
the right kind of customer or, in my 
case, walk in with one. At least three 
courteous if not over-eager gun sales- 
men positioned themselves as best 
they could to be of assistance. 

"We would like to look at some 
shotguns," I announced in my most 
authoritative manner. "We'll start 
with a 20-gauge for the lady." 

One of the men behind the count- 
er offered several American or Japan- 
ese models. We looked at over and 
unders and semi-automatics of vari- 
ous lengths and brands, all for the 
purpose of me acquainting this love- 
ly lady who had captured everyone's 
attention with my superior knowl- 
edge of gunning and prolonging this 
date as much as I could. 

Have you ever had the experience 
in early summer when you first go to 
the beach and feel the sun's warmth 
melt away the winter blues while a 
sweet ocean breeze washes over you 
only to later learn that same sun was 
melting away skin cells as well? As I 
was basking in the glory of my per- 
ceived element alongside this vision I 
had introduced to a gun shop, I real- 
ized too late I had basked too long 
when I heard her say, "May I see that 
one with the gold inlay?" 

Happily, the clerk pulled a beauti- 
ful high-grade Italian shotgun from 
the rack, broke open the barrels, and 
placed it in her hands. She traced her 
fingers gently over the scroll work on 
the receiver admiringly. All eyes 
were upon her as she snapped the 
gun shut and brought it to her shoul- 
der. She brought the gun down and 
handed it back to one of the young 
men behind the counter. 

"It is beautiful," she said. "Simply 

There are always those moments 
in a horror film when the soon-to-be 
victim believes he has escaped his 
pursuer and has averted death or 

danger. Breathing heavily, his back 
pressed against a darkened wall, the 
terror begins to fade from his eyes as 
he believes he has cheated fate. He 
turns a corner, only to meet evil with 
a menacing blade that proceeds to cut 
him to ribbons. I, too, had one of 
those momentary lapses until she 
looked up at me and said, "Darling, 
it's the one I want." 

All of a sudden the kind of atten- 
tion I was enjoying quickly soured. 
Now all eyes were on me. I placed my 
hand on the counter ever so slightly 
to steady myself. I didn't have to 
look; I could feel three Cheshire 
smiles from behind the sales counter. 
They had seen this coming long be- 
fore I did. Although I didn't own a 
high-grade Italian shotgun, I had al- 


ways wanted to buy one someday. It 

is amazing how fast the future can 

come at you when you least expect it. 

A team of gastroenterologists 

from the most prestigious medical 
schools in the country could not cure 
the sickening feeling that had just in- 
vaded the pit of my stomach. I again 

placed my hand on the glass counter 
to steady a knee-buckling feeling that 
was making a mockery of the cocky 
walk I exhibited while entering the 
gun store. 

Looking desperately for an escape 
route like a panicked fawn encircled 
by a pack of wolves, I realized my es- 
cort and her attention to a fine im- 
ported shotgun had attracted a small 
group of customers just as a poker 
player on a hot streak in Las Vegas. I 
had been 'called' and it was time to 
show my hand. All I was holding was 
a pair of credit cards nearing their 
credit limit. When one finds himself 
in the ticklish situation of having to 
perform under pressure the first rule 
is never to show fear. A cracking 
voice and trembling hand make it 
hard to hide a bluff. 

"Certainly darling, that's just the 
very gun you shall have!" I said with 
all the bravado I could muster. 

And to the sales staff, "Will $500 
serve as a down payment and hold 
this masterpiece? We have some 
more pressing things ahead of us 
tonight and really don't have time to 
fill out the required paperwork." 

The banks now closed, I had about 
12 hours to either win the state lottery 
or come up with an excuse why that 
particular shotgun was not for my 
lady friend. I wrote out the check, 
thinking a $30 stop payment charge 
would be a lot cheaper than the finan- 
cial tsunami I had just avoided. 
Knowing the "pressing things 
ahead" comment had implied a sub- 
tle innuendo of a chance of romance, I 
took the lady's arm and, as the small 
crowd parted, we walked out of the 
store. I could not help but notice how 
different a person walks when per- 
spiration has am down their legs and 
filled both shoes. □ 

Clarke C. Jones spends his spare time with his 
black Labrador retriever, Luke, hunting up good 
stories. You can visit Clarke and Luke on their 
Web site at 


! Grow Wild! 

Virginia 's 


story by Cristina Santiestevan 
illustrations by Spike Knuth 

f LJ ising seas, raging storms, 
^f- \ and damaging flood waters 
\that seem to never recede. 
Submerged houses. Eroded barrier is- 
lands. Such coastal horrors may be 
reminiscent of New Orleans, but the 
bayou is not the only coastal region that 
should be paying close attention to cli- 
mate change and its associated threats. 
Virginia is home to more than 5,000 
miles of tidal shoreline, according to 
the Va. Institute of Marine Science, and 
much of it is terribly vulnerable to the 
impacts of climate change. In fact, ac- 
cording to a recent study by the U.S. 
Geological Survey, the Virginia coast is 
VW, the second-most vulnerable coastal 
IjLdV region in the United States— sec- 
1 ond only to the Gulf Coast re- 

gion that includes New Orleans. 
¥ Climate change is also known 
as global warming for one very 
good reason: Our planet will get 
warmer. Perhaps significantly 
warmer. The southeast region of the 
United States has already warmed 
nearly 2°F since 1901 — enough to alter 
spring bloom times and first frost 
dates — and could warm another 
4.5-9°F by 2080. By the end of this cen- 
tury, Virginia's coastal areas could be 
facing summers where temperatures 
climb above 90°F on more than 75 days. 
Currently the region experiences 15 to 
30 such days every year. 

Rocketing temperatures affect more 
than air conditioning bills, of course. 
Significantly warmer summer temper- 
atures will lead to heat stress and heat- 

i 1 

Northern Harrier 

Northeastern Beach 
Tiger Beetle 

related illness in plants and animals, 
could alter the growth patterns of 
plants, and will almost certainly 
cause many animals to shift their 
ranges northward. The Northern 
harrier (p. 20), for example, currently 
nests in Virginia's salt and brackish 
marshes. Also known as the marsh 
hawk, this large bird of prey cruises 
marshes and fields for small mam- 
mals, birds, and reptiles. Harriers 
build their nests on the ground, 
where they lay anywhere from 2 to 10 
eggs. Although Northern harriers do 
nest along Virginia's coast, these 
birds more commonly nest in cooler 
regions — as far north as northern 
Alaska and Canada — and Virginia 
represents the southern limit to their 
breeding range. As temperatures 
climb, these impressive raptors may 
become no more than occasional 
winter visitors to the common- 

creased damage and erosion from 
coastal flooding and storm surges. 
Low-lying salt marshes, mud flats 
and tidal areas will be hit hardest and 
could see severe losses due to erosion 
and storm damage. 

More frequent and intense storms 
could spell disaster for coastal nest- 

ing birds, such as the 
piping plover. Vir- 
ginia's barrier islands 
support a small but sta- 
ble population of about 
200 breeding pairs of pip- 
ing plover. The same habi- 
tats these birds prefer for 
breeding — wide open 
beaches that run into ex- 
panses of tidal mud and 
sand flats — are home to other 
threatened species, like the 
Northeastern beach tiger beetle, 
that are unlikely to weather the fierce 
events and floodwaters predicted. 
Such storms can wash away eggs, 
drown unfledged chicks, and deluge 
beetle habitat. Strong storms already 
impact piping plovers, and may have 
contributed to the poor survival rates 
seen in the 2008 breeding season, 
when less than one chick survived, 
on average, for every clutch of eggs 
laid. These fatal storm and flooding 
events will become more common in 
the coming decades. 


Temperature is not the only 
thing that will change. More 
violent storms will pum- 
mel coastal and tidal re- 
gions. These storms, 
coupled with stronger 
waves, will lead to in- 


Perhaps most devastating, the 
seas will rise, submerging low-lying 
coastal land, salt marshes, and mud 
flats. Most predictions anticipate a 
rise of 2 to 6 feet. Because more than 
350 square miles of Virginia's land 
lies less than five feet above sea level, 
such changes could swamp entire 
ecosystems. Already, one-third of the 
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge 
is submerged and numerous Chesa- 
peake Bay islands are losing ground 
or already underwater. 

Absent coastal development, ris- 
ing seas should simply push salt 
marshes and tidal habitats inland. 
However, because much of Virginia's 
coast is developed — one-fifth of Vir- 
ginians live on or near the coast — 
many salt marshes will have no- 
where to go. Some regions could ef- 
fectively lose their entire marshy and 
tidal habitats. 

Such a loss would be devastating 
for the many animals and plants that 
live in brackish salt marshes. The dia- 
mondback terrapin, for example, is 
the only turtle in the world known to 
live exclusively in brackish water. 
These attractive turtles sport dia- 
mond-shaped patterns on their shells 
and black spots and squiggles on 

Black Rai 

their faces and legs. Diamondback 
terrapins live throughout Virginia's 
extensive tidal marshes, bogs, and es- 
tuaries, where they hunt fishes, 
snails, worms, and crabs. The turtles 
are frequently seen by boaters as they 
sun themselves on half-submerged 
logs. As brackish areas are squeezed 
between a rising sea and immobile 

coastal development, diamondback 
terrapins may become a rarer sight 
for boaters and water enthusiasts. 

Diamondback terrapins are not 
alone. Many of Virginia's marsh birds 
also rely upon this band of habitat 
that lies between open water and 
solid ground. Salt marshes, barrier is- 
lands, and tidal zones support a 
range of shorebirds, herons, 
terns, and songbirds. Among 
these, the black rail may suf- 
fer the greatest losses as sea 
levels rise. Barely measur- 
ing 6 inches in length and 11 
inches in wingspan, the black 


Act Wild 

Want to help Virginia's coastal and tidal 
creatures weather climate change? Here 
are three simple ways to make a difference: 

1. Support efforts to protect wildlife habi- 
tat locally and statewide. Undeveloped 
sweeps of land and water may be nec- 
essary as our climate changes, and 
some species begin to migrate further 
north or more inland. 

2. Volunteer with local or statewide 
clean-up events or habitat preserva- 
tion programs. Clean beaches and un- 
polluted waterways will help wildlife 
thrive today, ensuring they will be bet- 
ter prepared as climate changes be- 
come more dramatic. 

3. Inspire your friends and family to get 
involved by sharing your knowledge 
and enthusiasm with them. 

rail is the smallest and shyest of 
North America's rails. This secretive 
bird lives and breeds exclusively in ir- 
regularly flooded salt marshes, such 
as those that line Virginia's tidal 
reaches. Some sea level rise predic- 
tions indicate that their breeding 
areas will be completely covered with 
salt water. The black rail could be- 
come homeless. 

Distance does not protect us. Cli- 
mate change impacts across the coun- 
try can still affect Virginia's wildlife. 
Already, fewer redhead ducks and 
other waterfowl are visiting the 
Chesapeake Bay as part of their annu- 
al migration. Drier conditions, caused 
by climate change, are damaging 
their breeding grounds in the Prairie 
Pothole region. Rising temperatures 
here also discourage the birds from 
visiting; warmer water impedes eel- 
grass growth, a habitat these birds 
rely upon for forage. 

We cannot, at this point, stop cli- 
mate change. Nor can we push the 
rising waters back into the sea. Salt 
marshes and tidal flats rely on free- 
flowing water and occasional tidal 
surges; seawalls would choke them 

out. Instead, we can help our coastal 
ecosystems and wildlife survive the 
coming changes by bolstering their 
health and habitats today. 

Many of the coastal animals and 
ecosystems that will suffer greatest 
from climate change are already at 
risk due to habitat loss, water pollu- 
tion, disease, or invasive species. Be- 
cause they are already struggling, 
these animals — piping plovers, dia- 
mondback terrapins, and Northern 
harriers, for example — will be less 
able to withstand the changes their 
habitats will experience as seas rise 
and temperatures increase. 

In response, the Department has 
completed a plan of action that will 
help our ecosystems and wildlife 
weather the effects of climate change. 
Habitat preservation may be the best 
thing we can do. By limiting dense 
coastal developments, we preserve a 
zone of undeveloped land where salt 
marshes can migrate as sea levels 
rise. Reducing threats to individual 
species will also help, because when 
the species are able to thrive today, 
they are better able to adapt when 
their habitats or food supplies begin 
to change. 

There is no denying that Virginia's 
coastal salt marshes, estuaries, and 
barrier islands will change in the 
coming decades. Rising seas will 
carve a new coastline, and warmer 
temperatures may invite a new suite 
of species to our shores. But, by pro- 
tecting and strengthening coastal 
ecosystems today, we help ensure 
that some of our favorite animals and 
habitats remain here in the future as 
well. □ 

Cristina Santiestevan writes about wildlife and 
the environment from her home in Virginia's 
Blue Ridge Mountains. 


Virginia Wildlife Action Plan 

National Wildlife Federation, Fact Sheet 
pdfs/vi rginia.pdf 

Center for Coastal Resources Mgmt. 
Virginia Institute of Marine Science 

Wetlands Watch 


Redhead ducks 


story and photos 
by Gail Brown 


^^^^^ m L ason Weston has 
^^^^^^ y been fishing since he 
was four years old, 
mostly in a pond on the family farm 
with his brothers and dad, and over 
the past seven years at all of the Cat- 
fish Showdown's Kids Fishing Days 
held at nearby John H. Kerr Dam and 
Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake). Prior 
to last September, Jason hadn't 
caught anything of much size and 
didn't even have a tall tale to tell 
about "the one that got away" Now 
he doesn't need one. Last September 
19th at the 7th annual Kids Fishing 
Day, 11 -year-old Jason brought in the 
largest fish ever caught at the event — 
an award- winning 18.04-lb. catfish! 
During the 15-minute brouhaha that 
started the minute that big cat hit the 
hook, chances were 50-50 that the 
monster from the deep might win. 
When it was over, Jason prevailed. 
With a final victory pull (but no net in 
sight), Jason's dad and older brother 
jumped in to help make sure his blue 
cat stayed caught. 

"I only had a 15-lb. line on my rod, 
but I had the drag set. It pulled some 
and I pulled some, then it pulled 
harder . . . but finally I pulled it in. I 
was worried it would break the line." 
When asked how he felt when the 
struggle was over, Jason summed it 
all up with a laugh and a happy "Oh, 

And that sums it up for the entire 
tournament, too: Oh, boy what a day! 
While the Catfish Showdown's Kids 
Fishing Day only comes to life for one 
day a year each September, that's a 
lucky thing. Any more fun and the 

Is wouldn't know where to keep 
all those happy memories, much less 
the armload of prizes and goodies 
they take home. 

Perhaps long-time resident and 
fisherman Ray "Hoghead" Jones 
came up with the idea for a kids' fish- 
ing day while sitting in his boat in 
one of Buggs Island Lake's secluded 
coves; or, maybe it came to him as he 
left Weston's Grocery after a morning 
spent swapping fish tales with 
friends. Either way, with a picture in 
his mind of how to make magic for all 
youngsters, Hoghead made it his 



r 1 


goal to see that one day each year the 
lake at Staunton View Park would be 
set aside just for kids. Adults could 
bait hooks and untangle lines, but the 
shoreline would be reserved for the 
youngsters! There, future genera- 
tions would throw out their lines and 
begin building their own memories 
of that great rural American experi- 
ence — time out fishin' with friends. 

Dreams like Hoghead's can't be- 
come a reality without a lot of help 
from others, and fortunately there 
has never been a shortage of like- 
minded, sports-lovin' people in and 
around Red Oak. With the success of 
the first (adult) Catfish Showdown 
fishing tournament fresh in every- 
one's minds, getting the same experi- 
ence set up for kids was like catching 
a fish in a barrel: You just knew it was 
going to happen. The immediate sup- 
port of friends Warren Weston and 
John Moore, along with generous do- 
nations from area businesses, was all 
that was needed to get things rolling. 
With the date set and information 
posted on their Web site (www.the, the big 
event was set to become a dream 
come true — until a nightmare named 
Isabel crashed the party. 

A hurricane to be reckoned with, 
Isabel tore up the park, toppling trees 
and tossing debris everywhere. But 
85 kids had signed up to fish and the 
men were going to see that they had 
their chance: Two weeks after the 
storm, the first Kids Fishing Day took 
place and set the precedent for things 
to come. As the years passed, atten- 
dance, as well as the number of spon- 
sors and volunteers from the Red 


Above: Finished fishing? Take off your shoes and take a break! 
Below: Jason's big catch set a record at the Catfish Showdown's Kids Fishing Day. 
From L to R: Sheriff Danny Fox, Mecklenburg Co.; Jason Weston; Danny Weston; 
and Conservation Police Officer Mark Van Dyke, Mecklenburg Co. 


Oak community, grew rapidly. Last 
year 414 kids fished, with 1,212 at- 
tending the event! Increasing gen- 
erosity from area sponsors continues 
to make it possible for everyone to 
enjoy a great (and free!) lunch that in- 
cludes hotdogs, soda, cookies, chips, 
and snowcones of every color. Spon- 
sorship also allows the kids to win 
some very impressive prizes and 
even borrow rods and reels and bait 
for the day, if needed. Those who 
don't win a prize for the fish they 
land can win toys at the many free ac- 
tivities, like the hay search and gold- 
fish pool. Then there are the water 
games, remote control trucks, face 
painting, moonwalk, and the dunk- 
i ng booth to enjoy. 

Thomas Martin, who came from 
Danville with his three daughters 
(10, 4, and 2) for their second tourna- 
ment, stated: "I really commend 
them for doing this. We didn't catch 
any fish, just plenty of mud, but good 
times were had by all! Events like this 
are few and far between!" 

The mud Martin is talking about 
is plentiful and there is a reason for it 
and the changing shoreline. Man- 

aged by the U. S. Army Corps of En- 
gineers, the John H. Kerr Dam and 
Reservoir (known here as Buggs Is- 
land Lake) was constructed in the 
1950s for flood control and to gener- 
ate hydropower. Josh Deal, a forester 
for the Corps, explained: "In the 
spring the water level is raised to aid 
in fish spawn, and in the fall and win- 
ter the water level is lowered to aid in 
flood control capacity. It's a challenge 
to create a balance." 

Josh is there to answer questions 
about the lake, as are representatives 
from the Virginia Department of 
Forestry, Charlotte County Soil and 
Water Conservation District, the 
Mecklenburg Sheriff's Department, 
and the Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries. While there officially 
to answer boating, fishing, and other 
environmental questions, it was ob- 
vious they were having a great time 
visiting with families and watching 
the fishing, too. 

DGIF Conservation Police Officer 
Bobby Kemery who has attended the 
event as a parent and on assignment, 
said, "Everything about the day is 
positive. Families can come out and 

Kids Fishing Day is fun for the whole 

have a good time; kids can fish with- 
out being crowded by adults ; and the 
fact that the tournament promotes 
good ethical practices like 'catch and 
release' helps to ensure the fishing at 
the lake will only get better." 

Deal agreed, adding, "It's great to 
see the kids away from those elec- 
tronic games they play inside, getting 
outside in nature, enjoying fishing." 

And enjoying the mud, too! Re- 
gardless of how the mud got there, 
these young anglers seemed to be- 
lieve it was put there just for them, to 
ensure they had a great time, fish or 
no fish. Surprisingly, the muddier 
they got, the less mom and dad 
seemed to mind. Apparently these 
grownups know Hoghead's secret: 
Fish and mud and being outside with 
friends is all kids need to make them 
happy. And maybe a snowcone or 
two. □ 

Gail Brown is a retired teacher and school 




■ w 

*. . 

f» J 

New Holland 
Hydraulic Oil 


In spring, a young man's fancy is 
supposed to turn to love. But if you 
have just acquired a new puppy then 
it doesn't matter how old you are. A 
new pup brings with it real love. The 
"don't care what kind of car you 
drive; don't care how smart you are; 
don't care if you can't get a date" 
kind of love. If you anticipate hunt- 
ing with your dog in the future, a 
new pup brings hope as well. That's 
quite a lot in one little, furry package 
with big eyes and bigger feet. 

To make sure your hopes and 
dreams with your future hunting 
partner come to fruition, there is 
nothing better than a little training 
and a little planning. First and fore- 
most, training should be simple and 
fun for your puppy. There are a cou- 
ple of things that helped me when I 
was a pup that may help you with 
your new best friend. As soon as you 
can, enroll yourselves in a puppy 
obedience class. It may save your 
dog's life if it learns to obey the three 
key commands immediately — 
COME, SIT, and STAY— and instruc- 
tion time also provides a bonding op- 
portunity. If you enroll in a class, you 
will soon realize that what you learn 
will have to be repeated daily or your 
pup will fall behind in its lessons. 
Obedience class really isn't about 
you training your dog — it's about 
training you to be a dog trainer! 

If you hope your dog will do some 
retrieving for you, start its training 
with an old sock in the hallway or 
any short runway where your pup 
will have to come to you without tak- 

ing any detours. Take the balled-up 
sock and play with it in front of the 
puppy so that it looks like the best 
thing a dog could put in his mouth. 
When your pup has its focus on you, 
and the sock, toss the sock a short dis- 
tance down the hallway and let the 
pup run after it. When the pup picks 
up the sock, start calling your pup's 
name. We are going to assume the 
dog knows its name because you 
have been saying it at least every time 
you feed it. We are also going to as- 
sume it might know the word 
COME because you have been say- 
ing "HOOVER, COME!" every time 
you feed it. Believe me, Hoover will 
be coming anytime there is food but 
introducing a command and a treat 
doesn't hurt in beginner lessons. It is 
always good to say the dog's name 
before issuing any command. 

Now back to the sock thing. En- 
courage your dog to come. You may 
have to pat the floor or whistle but try 
to make sure the puppy thinks that 
the best place to be with the sock is 
next to you. When it gets to you, start 
praising your pup like he is the best 
puppy that ever lived! Praise should 
be immediate once the pup has 
obeyed your command. The idea is to 
get your dog to understand that YOU 
provide the fun and that following 
your command is a great thing. Do 
this about three times at first, but 
make sure you stop your training les- 
son while the pup still wants more. 
Do this maybe 3 or 4 times a day if 
possible but keep these lessons short 
and FUN! If you are consistent with 

this lesson, eventually the puppy will 
associate the sock with FUN. It will 
also begin to associate that coming to 
you gets a positive response. Eventu- 
ally, you will be able to increase the 
distance in the hallway. 

Once your pup follows this com- 
mand in a controlled situation, your 
next step is to go outside and try this, 
but you should have your pup on a 
short lead. You should control the 
training, not the pup. There are a lot of 
distractions and smells outside, and 
since we dogs "see with our noses" as 
well as with our eyes, that sock or 
training bumper may be kind of 'old 
hat' for us compared to what's out- 
doors. Remember, everything is new 
to us, so be patient. Repeat the same 
lesson the same way outside as you 
did inside. If your pup begins to wan- 
der and investigate things instead of 
coming to you, gently tug on the lead, 
pulling it to you, and praise the pup 
for being such a good dog. Keep the 
space your dog must travel to you 
short at first; then gradually increase 
the distance. Again, when the pup 
gets to you with the sock, heap praise 
on it. As before, stop your training be- 
fore your pup gets bored. 

The idea is to make being rubbed 
and praised by you a whole lot more 
fun than whatever else may be dis- 
tracting it. Eventually, you can try 
this exercise off-lead, but if your pup 
starts to ignore or disobey your com- 
mand, immediately put it back on 
lead and return to the first steps of 
your training. Do not be discouraged 
if your pup seems to have progressed 
with all the commands you have 
taught it and then regresses back to a 
point where it behaves like it never 
had a lesson. Keep training, be pa- 
tient, be consistent, and use positive 
reinforcement when it listens to your 

Those with teenagers will under- 
stand. □ 

Keep a leg up, 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever who spends 
his spare time hunting up good stories with his 
best friend, Clarke C. Jones. You can contact 
Luke and Clarke at 



Al>ucJ^ V/usit&t v5 Joama/ 

fy 7~&& CJark/3<=>m 

January <? , 2009 

*f~} y the end erf the SeaSon, most of my norma/ duck Spots had frozen So/id. father than 
M^** pack it /'/?, X decided X coou/d do Something neco and try a /itt/ejump Shooting, l^ithout 
■Lr^ much trouf>/e X ConVi nCed a friend of mine to ditch h'S doyjof> and head coeSt to f/oat 
a Sma// fiVer cohere. X had Seen Some ducJ(S in the fa// cohi/e flshinq for Sma//mouth oOSS . 
X hoped, coith the ponds frozen , the f>irds coou/d f/oCt( to the fiVerS . 

"To this point X had on/y hinted coith this guy one other timey and it coaS not the f>eSt of 
hunts. At the beginning of the SeOSon X had dragged his*? 300 yards through /?ne& deep mud y got 
US /oStf miSSed the first f/ght at Shooting timey and dumped into Some other auy3' } u/timate- 
/y, cue ended up sat i no Stea/( and eqaS at a diner coithout eVen /oadina our aUnS . "Tru/yy X coaS 
amazed he had agreed to another/hunt coith me . 

lOe reached the riv&r around q am. and dropped his dor first cohere coe coou/d take out. "Things 
Zoo/fed promisi no. "The fiVer coaS open coith no ice. faJe Spotted a feco merganSerS Scoimmina 
around the oend } So there coaS Some /ife around . faJhen coe reached the put-in, thinaS Zoomed 
much the Same, no ide in the fiVer to SpeaJ( of. fVerythina footed /i/^e a Qo. l*Je loaded the COnoe } 
thr&co on our /ifejacketSy and Set out on our coay. X took the front of the canoe coith /ooded 
QUn. Xt coaS a different Sort of hunting than X coaS USed to, f>ut X coaS enjoyina Scanning the 
fiVer f>e/oco US rather than the s/(ieS aZoVe . tOe hadn t Qone 300 yards Aefore X Spotted Some 
oirds Zoafing in an eddy formed oy a doconed tree . MoStZy they looked Zi/(e wore fsh eaterS, out 
there did Seem to oe one ogoer oird in the oUnch- 

HS coe Crept c/oSer, the f>irds got nerVouS and /i-fted off the coater before coe got in range . 
Just as X thought it coaS over, they a// turned and headed f>ack upstream. X let the first group 
paSS) cohich coere a// meroanSerS > and coaited as that f>g £ird y a /one oreenheady sai/ed riaht oVer 
top. Xt coaS On eaSy Shot, Aut coith the OtokcoardneSS of the COnoe and the /ifejac^et, X m'SSed 

coith the frst tcoo rounds, fortunate/y Xfo/ded him coith the third, tfuick/y X started iny pat- 
ting mySeZf on the f>acJ( for ha/ina such a oreat idea. 

~T~he ne\t tcoenty minuteS yie/ded not hi no out had done ZittZe to discouraae US. "There coaS 
p/enty of fiVer /eft and Certain/y more oirds. "The on/y thing that coaS oeainnina to maj(e me nerV- 
oUS coaS the ice . (3radua//y it had appeared on the sides of the river, narrocoina it o\y ha/ fin Some 
p/aCeS. Sti//, there coaS moVina coater. tOe coou/d oe fine. 

X /oSt that Confident fee/ina OS coe rounded the next o"end y on/y to find the fiVer Comp/ete/y 
iced oVer O^out 3<2 yards &e/oco. "There coas a/ ready ice a/onQ the Steep Aan/fSy So there coaS /itt/e 
Choice f>ut to drift into the sheet 6e/oco and hope coe CoU/d s/ide the Canoe a/onQ the top. l*Jhat 
had started as a /eisure/y day of Jump S hoot i no ouic^/y o'ecame a surviva/ mission. 

tOithin minuteS coe coere Stucfc on the f/oe in the midd/e of the fiVer . "The coaler coaS deep and 
fast Underneath . "The ice, cohich Zoomed to o'e aJ>out 2 inches thic/(, coou/d neVer Support our 
coeia/jty and it coaS c/ear that if either or f>oth of US ended up in the coater here, there coou/d o'e 
no aettina out a/iVe. S/oco/y coe coere aj>/e to s/ide the COnoe 
Up on the ice coith our padd/eS and then each StuCJ^ one 
foot out on either Side and s/id the Canoe a/ona the 
Surface . Xt coaS s/oco and tedious aoinay f>ut coe coere marina 
procu-eSS and eventua//y made it to the f>ank cohere the coater 
coaS Sha//ocoer and coe Cou/d aet out and drag the f>oat. "T~he. 
pro6/em coaS coe had SeVera/ mi/eS to qo. Xhe fiVer opened f>ac/( £ 
SeVera/ occasions £uty for the most party coe Spent the rest 
day s/iding and draggma the canoe in Aetcoeen — fearina for our ZiVeS. 
As for the huntingy coe neVer Sato another ducJ(. 8y /ate afternoon 
fina//y reached the tafce-out . tOe had Just one ma//ard to shocoy 
coe coere a/ive and that coaS victory enough on this day. 

Once f>ack in the car } X /et out a /ong sigh and cranked the heatt 
My f>uddy turned to mey and coith a Stone Co/d expression Said, 
X don t knoco if X can qo duck hunting coith you anymore . 

X can t say that X Siame him rea//y. 

2010 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current 
information and registration on work- 
shops go to the "Upcoming Events" 
page on our Web site at www.Hunt- or call 804-367-7800. 

January 2: Firearms seasons close for 
bear, deer, and turkey. Late archery 
and late muzzleloading deer seasons 

January 9: Educational Youth Water- 
fowl Hunting Workshop, Essex. 

January 14, 16, 21, 23, 26: Learn to Use 
Your Digital Camera, with Lynda 
Richardson at the Lewis Ginter 
Botanical Garden. For more informa- 
tion: or call 
(804) 262-9887, ext. 322. 

January 15-17: The Richmond Fishing 
Expo, Richmond Raceway Complex. 
For more information: 

January 16: Educational Youth Rabbit 
Hunting Workshop, Wayside Park, 
Pittsylvania County. For ages 17 and 
under. Registration is limited. 


Virginia department of Game and Inland Fisheries 

Outdoor Report 

For a free email subscription, 

visit our Web site at 

Click on the Outdoor Report [ink 

and simply fill in the 

required information. 

January 22-24: Virginia Boat Shozv, 
The Greater Richmond Convention 
Center, Richmond: http:/ /marine / virginia_ 

January 28, 30, Feb. 4, 6, 9: 

Photographing Winter's Wonders, with 
Lynda Richardson at the Lewis Gin- 
ter Botanical Garden, Richmond. For 
more information: www.lewis or call (804) 262-9887, 
ext. 322. 

January 30: Winter Wildlife Festival, 
Virginia Beach. For more informa- 
tion, contact Jeff Trollinger at 

January 30: Quail and squirrel sea- 
sons close 

February 12-15: 2010 Great Backyard 
Bird Count. For more information: / gbbc or / gbbc. 

February 13: Grouse season closes. 

February 27: Rabbit season closes. 

April 3: Youth Spring Turkey Hunt 
Day. For ages 1 5 and younger. □ 

Lifetime Licenses 

Open the door to a lifetime of enjoyment 

in the great outdoors of Virginia with a 

lifetime freshwater fishing, hunting 

or trout license! 

It's an investment that keeps on giving. 

For more information visit: 

or call 1- (866) 721-6911 

Report Wildlife Violations 1 -800-237-571 2 

Volunteers Needed: 
Trout Stream Study 

In late April, volunteers will spread 
out through the state's western 
mountains gathering water samples 
for the Virginia Trout Stream Sensi- 
tivity Study (VTSSS). Implemented 
30 years ago by watershed scientists 
at the University of Virginia, VTSSS is 
among the longest running and most 
important studies of acidic deposi- 
tion and its impact on air and water 
quality in the nation. 

Under VTSSS, U.Va. scientists 
check the acidity of about 65 moun- 
tain streams every three months. 
Temperature monitoring on some of 
these streams this year will improve 
our understanding of the impact of 
climate change. But every ten years, 
scientists rely upon volunteers to col- 
lect water samples from about 450 
creeks in the commonwealth's 
mountains. Each volunteer is given 
precise directions to sampling sites 
on two or three streams. They fill bot- 
tles with water and return them to a 
regional coordinator, who packs 
them in ice for delivery to U.Va. 

Overall coordination of the sam- 
pling is managed by the Virginia 
Council of Trout Unlimited. To vol- 
unteer, go to, or con- 
tact the TU chapter nearest you. 
VTSSS volunteers have provided 
data critical for the enforcement of 
power plant and other emissions 
standards. Water sampling is an im- 
portant component of trout restora- 
tion efforts in Virginia. And there's 
simply no better excuse for prowling 
a new trout stream than April's 
VTSSS sampling. □ 

Tliis report was contributed by TU member 
Marcia Woolman. 



by Beth Hester 

APassion for Nature: Thomas 

Jefferson and Natural History 

Keith Thomson 

2009 University of North Carolina 

Press, for The Thomas Jefferson 


$14.95; 1-800-848-6224 

This volume is one of several in the 
Monticello Monograph Series which 
was launched in 1993 to celebrate the 
250th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. 
It provides an unusual glimpse of Jef- 
ferson as the premier citizen-scientist 
of his day; it is a window into the me- 
thodical soul of this complex Virgin- 
ian, and a snapshot of 18th-century 
rural Virginia. 

Thomas Jefferson revered the 
Albemarle countryside which sur- 
rounded his beloved Monticello. For 
all the aesthetic pleasure he took in 
his surroundings, he was equally 
concerned with tailoring the land- 
scape to take advantage of its biologi- 
cal richness and diversity. By his na- 
ture, Jefferson was a compulsive and 
prolific list maker /diarist who docu- 
mented the changing seasons, the 
progress of his farm, daily weather 
data, and his archeological and geo- 
logical explorations. Curious about 
the West, Jefferson helped initiate the 
Lewis and Clark expeditions, was an 
amateur paleontologist, and ex- 
plored American Indian folkways. 

Though his public duties necessi- 
tated long stretches away from his 
home, over his lifetime Jefferson ex- 
perimented with individual plants 
and whole crops, established a deer 
park, cultivated flower and vegetable 
gardens, raised sheep, goats, and rab- 
bits — always tweaking his methods 
of scientific farming and animal hus- 

The rich woods and upland 
forests surrounding Monticello were 
filled with squirrels, turkeys, otters, 

deer, beavers, raccoons, foxes and 
chipmunks, bobcats, wolves, 
cougars, and the occasional elk in the 
high grounds. Encouraging variety, 
Jefferson used the mixed species 
woods around his home to best ad- 
vantage, and created spaces on his 
land to cultivate fruits arid nuts. Jef- 
ferson was a huge fan of the pecan 
tree, and was one of the first to recog- 
nize that it was a species distinct from 
the white walnut. 

Jefferson's personal philosophy 

The 2010 


It's once again time to purchase a 
Virginia Wildlife calendar — that's still 
a bargain at 

$10 each. 

As always, the calendar features 
spectacular photography and useful 
information to the outdoors enthusiast, 
including wildlife behavior, hunting 
seasons, favorable hunting and fishing 
times, state fish records, and more! 

Quantities Are Limited, 
So Order Yours Today. 

Make your check payable to 
"Treasurer ofVirginia" and send to: 
Virginia Wildlife Calendar, 
P.O. Box 11 1 04, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104. 

To pay by VISA or MasterCard, you may order 
online at on our se- 
cure site. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. 

of life was deeply rooted in his views 
about nature arid agriculture, and au- 
thor Keith Thomson could not have 
described this world view in more 
accurate terms: 

"Natural history was not just a 
hobby for Jefferson, it was central to his 
world view. Out of his passion for natural 
history, Jefferson developed the belief that 
nature is the guide to all that is good and 
pure ami thus must be the basis of a per- 
son's education and subsequently their 
general philosophy. " □ 


SCH 3-DIGIT 229 

#VIR0002235105/8#60 MAY10 


P.O. BOX 11104 

RICMOND VA 23230-1104 

Reading Your Label 

Is it time to renew? If you are uncertain when your subscription expires, 
look for the expiration date in the circled location on the sample above. 



Making Accommodations 

We are reminded in this month's Be 
Wild feature (p. 20) that climate 
change will bring with it a new set of 
stressors to wildlife — felt first and 
foremost throughout Virginia's 
coastal reaches. Birds and fishes and 
a host of other creatures that count on 
the fragile ecosystems at the inter- 
play of land and water are among the 
most vulnerable. A rising sea that in- 
undates the low-lying marshes and 
spits of land used by these species 
will force them inland to find new 
corridors for travel and fuel. 

Building on that premise, you 
may share an interest in climate 
change strategies that are being in- 
corporated by Virginia's conserva- 
tion community for the benefit of all 
game and nongame species. Recom- 
mended actions have been collected 
in a newly released report, "Vir- 
ginia's Strategy for Safeguarding Vir- 
ginia's Species of Greatest Conserva- 
tion Need from the Effects of Climate 

Healthy habitats support healthy 
wildlife and human communities, 
and habitat conservation is the single 
most important action we can take to 

safeguard wildlife from climate 
change. Some 13 river systems and a 
broad inventory of wetlands, wood- 
ed bottomlands, and coastal marshes 
are called out in the report for their 
ailing condition and need for restora- 
tion, in order to maintain resilience 
to a changing climate. Targeted re- 
gions will need financial resources, 
not to mention human willpower, to 

Another strategy speaks to the 
need to revise Virginia's Endangered 
Species Act to allow for more flexibil- 
ity on private property. Endangered 
species that reside in isolated pock- 
ets may need to be transported to 
new locations where habitat condi- 
tions will support them, quite likely 
on private lands. In such situations, bi- 
ologists and managers seek "experi- 
mental status" for these popula- 
tions — allowing public and private 
partners to conserve them within a 
more flexible legal framework. 

These strategic responses repre- 
sent initial guidance to safeguard 
our most threatened species while 
more comprehensive measures are 
hammered out. Such measures will 
be built upon much-needed data and 
climate modeling, still missing from 

Answers to the December 2009 
"Byrd Nest" Crossword Puzzle 

C R O S 

our collective suite of management 
tools. The data will be critical if we 
are going to both conserve our 
wildlife legacy and accommodate the 
needs of people on our changing 
landscapes as things heat up. 

For more information, go to: 
http: / / 



King George-based outdoor writer Ken Perrotte 
likes to take his grandchildren, Kenny and 
McKayla, deer hunting with him whenever 
they get the opportunity. Unfortunately for 
the youngsters, they were in a ground blind 
hunting with grandmother Maria when Ken 
took this nice 10-pointer on the last day of 
muzzleloader season. 


" Maybe if we hurry we can still make 
it to the boat show." 



Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Baby Back Squirrels 

i\ kay, so there is no barbecue sauce on this recipe and the 
\J squirrels aren't slow cooked in a smokehouse. The 
recipe name is designed more to conjure thoughts of how eas- 
ily that moist baby back rib meat slides off the bone. Squirrel 
prepared this way also slides off the bone easily. Unless you get 
the most grizzled, rutty old buck squirrels, this recipe leaves 
the meat delicate and succulent, terms rarely heard when din- 
ing on squirrel. 

People who've never eaten a squirrel might just be con- 
verted with this recipe. It is a variation on the traditional Coq 
au Vin (chicken with wine). This recipe also works for rabbit, 
chukar, pheasant and, yes, even chicken. 

Virginia has some very liberal squirrel seasons from June 
to January with lots of opportunities to get some bushytails 
prepped for the pot. Whether contemplating deer or squirrels 
for the dinner table, proper handling in the field plays a big 
role in later success in the kitchen. 


2 squirrels cut into 6-8 pieces. Keep leg and shoulder 
sections together, 
cup flour 
teaspoon pepper 
tablespoons butter 
tablespoons vegetable oil 
4 to 6 ounces (about 12 small) whole mushrooms 
4 or 5 pearl onions 

2 k cup chicken broth 
Vt cup dry sherry 
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
V2 teaspoon Creole seasoning* 

* We've used Konrico, Zatterans and Tony Chachere's brands 
of Creole seasoning. Seasoning salt and a little cayenne pep- 
per can be substituted. This isn't a spicy dish, so go easy on the 

Heat oven to 3 50 degrees. Mix flour and pepper in a bag, add 
squirrel and shake to coat. Melt butter in oil over medium 
heat in a skillet. Add the squirrel pieces and brown on all sides. 


Put squirrel with pan drippings, mushrooms, and onions into 
a baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top. 
Cover and bake for about 1 k hours until tender. Serves two. 
(Recipe can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.) 


Some say squirrel benefits from being soaked for a half-hour 
in water with a tablespoon or two of vinegar. If they're cleaned 
quickly and properly, we've not found it necessary, but it prob- 
ably doesn't hurt. 

Recommended side dishes: 

Serve with seasoned collard greens for genuine down home 
"company vittles." A side dish of wild rice also goes well. Keep 
plenty of napkins close by because forks are abandoned rapid- 
ly when enjoying this dish. Like good tender ribs, this quickly 
becomes food you eat with your fingers. 

Squirrel cooked this way is, basically, delicate white meat. 
Pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Virginia or New 
Zealand or a nice lager or light ale. □ 

The Department's "Squirrel Skinning, Quick and 
Easy" DVD can help anyone ensure squirrels in the 
hunt bag are quickly and cleanly transformed into 
meat ready for cooking. 

Retired Conservation Police Officer John Berry, a 
man who can clean a squirrel as fast as you can read 
this paragraph, offers expert instruction. The DVD, 
which also contains "Panfish Preparation and Fillet- 
ing," is available for $8 from the information desk at 
the Richmond Headquarters Office at 4010 West 
Broad Street in Richmond. Copies can be mail or- 
dered by sending a check or money order for $8 made 
payable to: "Treasurer of Virginia" and mailed to: Vir- 
ginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, At- 
tention Squirrel DVD, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, Vir- 
ginia 23230. 



by Lynda Richardson 

If Your Images Aren't Sharp 

i\ ne of the most common com- 
\/ plaints I hear from students 
during my photography workshops 
is, "Sometimes my images just aren't 
sharp!" When I explore the problem 
with them, it seems to come down to 
one thing: They are using shutter 
speeds too slow when hand-holding 
their cameras. 

Using a tripod would instantly 
solve this problem, of course, but 
many prefer to hold their cameras be- 
cause it allows for the most spontane- 
ity. So, I first look at how they are 
holding their cameras; sometimes 
this can be the source of the problem. 
For the greatest stability when hand- 
holding, I suggest placing the left 
hand under the camera body, or if 
you have a long lens, under the lens 
and the body where it balances per- 
fectly if held in one hand. The right 
hand should be gripping the other 
side of the camera, thumb on the back 
with your index finger on the shutter. 
With elbows tucked into your ribs 
and holding your breath, you be- 
come a stable platform for shooting. 

The next thing to understand is 
how shutter speeds can help you 
with sharpness. Many folks these 
days tend to use the automatic or 
program setting on their cameras 
and don't even know what their 
shutter speeds are! I recommend 
using the manual, or shutter priority 
settings, however, so that you will al- 
ways know your shutter speed. 

So why would this help? A 'rule 
of thumb' when hand-holding your 
camera is to avoid shooting a shutter 
speed slower than the focal length of 
your lens. For example, if you are 
using a 300mm lens you should se- 
lect at least a 1 /300th shutter speed, 
and when using a 24mm lens it 
should be at least 1 /30th. Depending 
on how steady you are, you could 
probably go a little slower — but not 
much. And if you need to shoot slow- 
er than 1 /30th, I would use a tripod. 

Holding you camera properly can be the first 
step to sharper photographs. 

Some lens manufacturers offer 
stabilizing features called Image Sta- 
bilization (IS, for Canon) or Vibration 
Reduction (VR, for Nikon). When 
turned on, this feature minimizes 
camera movement and allows you to 


use a slower shutter speed than the 
normal rule described here. This sta- 
bilization feature can allow you to 
shoot up to two shutter speeds slow- 
er than suggested here, but don't 
count on it to work in all situations. 

The next time you have problems 
with photographs that aren't sharp, 
investigate how you are holding the 
camera and whether the shutter 
speeds you are using are too slow. 
When all else fails, use a tripod! □ 

You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- 
quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw 
files on a disk and include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or other shipping method 
for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you 
captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone num- 
ber. We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 

Congratulations go to Alan Wingfield of Richmond for his wonderful action shot of a mature 
bald eagle gathering nesting material at Point of Rocks Park in Chesterfield. Canon EOS 
Digital Rebel XT, Canon 70-300mm IS zoom lens, ISO 400, 1/ 2000th, f 6. 3. Good job, Alan! 



r*^?^- W 

p .r^T^ / pic 


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Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 



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Nongame Tax 
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Celebrate the 28th anniversary of 
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Program by helping to support essential 
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native birds, fish, and other nongame 

If you are due a tax refund from the 
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contribute to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program by simply marking the 
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checkoff, on the Virginia state income 
tax form. 

If you would like to make a cash do- 
nation directly to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program using a VISA or Mas- 
terCard, you can visit the Department's 
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The Q 



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